Good planning as a basis

Preparing plans for recreational use of state-owned land is an important part of Metsähallitus' work. Using the areas for a wide range of recreational purposes is taken into consideration in the plans prepared for nature reserves and multiple-use forests.

Metsähallitus uses the hunting and fishing data extracted from visitor surveys and permit statistics in the planning process. When preparing the plans, Metsähallitus also considers the direct feedback from customers and the feedback provided by stakeholders at public events and in surveys.

National Parks Finland is responsible for the recreational infrastructure in nature reserves and hiking areas (such as trails, hiking facilities, signposting and buildings). The forest road network, which is important for the recreational use of multiple-use forests, is maintained by Metsähallitus Forestry Ltd.

More visitors to national parks

There were further increases in the number of visitors to national parks and other important sites in 2017. This was partially the result of the Nature Days and the extensive information campaigns accompanying them as well as closer cooperation with the tourist sector. Between January and December, there were 3.1 million visits to the national parks, which was 10 per cent more than in 2016. The main factor behind the increase was the Hossa National Park, which was opened in the year when Finland celebrated the centenary of its independence. The area attracted twice as many visitors as in 2016.

The revenue and employment impacts of the visitors to national parks, state-owned hiking areas and other popular nature reserves and hiking areas totalled EUR 258 million and 2,582 person-years in 2017. The visitors brought EUR 27.6 million to the areas adjacent to nature reserves and hiking areas, which was 15 per cent more than in 2016.

Spending impacts of visitors to national parks, state-owned hiking areas and certain other nature reserves and recreational areas on the local economy in 2017

Total revenue impact, EUR million Total employment impact, person-years Number of visitors
National parks (40) 206.5 2,055 3,104,700
State-owned hiking areas (5) 10.9 116 237,900
Historical sites (6) 6.4 63 228,800
Other nature reserves and recreational areas (6) 34.5 348 539,500
Total 258.3 2,582 4,110,900

In terms of local economic impact, the most important national parks in 2017 were the Pallas-Yllästunturi National Park (EUR 61.5 million), Urho Kekkonen National Park (EUR 36.6 million), Koli National Park (EUR 21.5 million), Oulanka National Park (EUR 18.8 million), and the Pyhä-Luosto National Park (EUR 13.3 million).

Fishing and hunting visitors also had a significant impact on the regional economy, and in this respect, eastern and northern parts of Finland were the biggest beneficiaries. The revenue and employment impact of wilderness visitors totalled nearly EUR 43 million and 261 person-years.

Wilderness permits sold and fisheries management fees in 2017

Hunting permits 53,962
Fishing permits 82,740
Fisheries management fees, number of annual fishing permit holders 192,360


Forest road network important to recreational visitors

The road network built for forest management purposes has developed into an important recreational infrastructure in state-owned areas. In order to allow more comprehensive monitoring of the recreational benefits of multiple-use forests, the use of the forest road network has been monitored as part of the natural resource plans for Kainuu, Southern Finland and Ostrobothnia. The monitoring will continue in the area coming under the natural resource plan for Lapland in summer 2018.

According to the road use surveys, about 500,000 people visit ordinary multiple-use forests in Kainuu, while in Southern Finland, the figure is about one million. The figures for the forest road use in the area coming under the natural resource plan for Ostrobothnia will be available in 2018.

Recreational visitors are the largest group of forest road users and, according to the forest road surveys in Kainuu and Southern Finland, they account for about 85 per cent of all users (forest road user surveys 2015–2016).

Roads and snowmobile tracks in multiple-use forests in 2017

Forest roads in state-owned land 38,000

Renovated roads 2017 440

Newly constructed roads 2017 170
Snowmobile tracks 4,204


Renovation backlog in national parks and historical sites a concern

In order to ensure continuous growth in the number of visitors to national parks and other recreational areas and to ensure the value of the historical sites, the areas must be in good condition, and the service infrastructure (such as trails and rest places) must be of high quality.

In 2017, Parks & Wildlife Finland carried out a review of the renovation backlog affecting the service infrastructure at its nature sites and historical sites. According to the review, the renovation backlog at nature sites totals about EUR 44 million, while the figure for historical sites amounts to more than EUR 72 million. The backlog calculations will be made into detailed action plans and site-specific cost estimates in 2018.

Hiking infrastructure in national parks, state-owned hiking areas and other nature reserves and recreational areas in 2017

Signposts 3,998
Wilderness and rental huts 418
Rest places 2,853
Boating facilities 583
Dry toilets and other waste management facilities 2,249
Firewood supply facilities 1,641

Hiking trails in national parks, state-owned hiking areas and other nature reserves and recreational areas in 2017

Hiking and nature trails 6,158
Ski tracks 2,196
Boating routes 716
Snowmobile tracks 3,706


Photo: Laura Johansson